Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil said it's started the search for new sources of natural gas by drilling two new wells off the coast of Australia.
The subsidiary, Esso Deepwater Gippsland, said it started drilling two exploration wells in the deepwaters of the Gippsland Basin off the southern coast of Australia. The company said the wells will be drilled in the deepest waters of the basin at close to a half mile.
"These wells are targeting gas prospects, with the objective of proving up resources for timely development and contribution to the Australian domestic gas market," Chairman Richard Owen said in a statement.
Most of the supermajors are involved to some degree in the Australian natural gas sector.
Chevron put its flagship Gorgon liquefied natural gas project in Australia at full capacity last year. The project will eventually produce 15.6 million tons of LNG per year, a fuel described by Chevron as "essential" for markets across Asia.
The company started operations at its Wheatstone LNG project in October. At its peak, the facility will supply nearly 9 million tons of super-cooled gas every year to the emerging and energy-hungry economies of Asia.
French supermajor Total in July took another step toward LNG leadership with the start of operations at the Ichthys project off the Australian coast. The company said it expected the project to be in service for the next 40 years, with a peak production capacity of 285,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Exxon's subsidiary said it has a drilling rig in place for gas operations off the southern Australian coast. Drilling is expected to take "several months."
Elsewhere, however, the company identified more than $3 billion in projects that could open up more doors in the LNG sector.
"ExxonMobil Australia is also actively considering a potential LNG import project to bring additional supply to the east coast gas market," Owen stated.